Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kosovo: First they came for the Jews?

CNN reports this morning that President Bush has justified recognizing Kosovo as an independent nation because doing so will bring 'peace' to the region:
"History will prove this to be a correct move to bring peace to the Balkans," he told reporters in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

The recognition "presents an opportunity to move beyond the conflicts of the past and toward a future of freedom and stability and peace," he said.
Judging from the reaction of Kosovo's small Jewish community to the declaration, one has to wonder whether Bush has become a Democrat. It seems that Wahabiism is there already and who knows whether madrassas will replace schools very soon. The Jews seem to be scared for their future.
Unemployment in Kosovo hovers at 50 percent and the average wage is $350 a month. "We all worry how we will get by," says Quono, a university student, wife and mother of a toddler.

The future of Quono and her family is uncertain, as they decide whether their destiny is in Israel or in southeastern Europe, where their roots go back to the 15th-century Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of Sephardic Jews fled to the Balkans.

There are some 50 Jews left in Kosovo. Belonging to three families, or clans, they all live in the city of Prizren, a rare gem of ancient architecture amid a landscape devastated by war, poverty and Communist-era concrete.


Distressed by a war they watched from the sidelines and facing an uncertain future, the Jews of Prizren are gloomy. When the war started, the other Jews in Kosovo - the 50 living in the capital city of Pristina - fled to Serbia, where they spoke the language and felt a part of the culture. But those in Prizren, where Jews speak Albanian and Turkish - there is a large Turkish population there - stayed.

Now, with Kosovo having broken away from Serbia, those like Votim Demiri, Quono's father, who made a decent living under communism, find it hard to leave the homes they built, despite fears of growing tensions with their neighbors.

"There was not anti-Semitism in the past, but with the Saudi charities here now we are seeing a Wahabi influence for the first time," Demiri said, referring to the fundamentalist Islamic ideology Saudi Arabian clerics have tried to export, with little success, in the Balkans. "I think the newspapers these days are not portraying Jews in such a positive light."


"Our spiritual life, like our economic life, is a disaster," Demiri said, pointing to his rotting roof. His children, it seems, are preparing for an eventual move to Israel.

Quono's sister, Teuta Demiri, 22, recently spent a year at a kibbutz, where she studied Hebrew. A bank teller in Prizren, Teuta is thinking about aliyah but is not confident she can find work in Israel. Her brother is studying Hebrew and also is nervous about his job prospects.

"I have been thinking for eight years whether to go or not to go to Israel," their father, Votim Demiri said.
Read it all. At Prima Impressionis, Nephtuli uses the occasion to wonder whether a 'state' of 'Palestine' or Gaza Hamastan seceding from Israel would be a legal entity under international law:
Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States lists four characteristics necessary for statehood:
a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
Nephtuli - who does not seem to be a right-winger - reaches the conclusion that neither 'Palestine' nor Hamastan fulfills the Montevideo conditions for statehood:
In summary both Gaza and Palestine probably fail the government condition, which deprives them of statehood under this treaty and they do not consistute a state under the Montevideo Treaty.

Besides the Montevideo Treaty, there is also a theory that recognition is a necessary and sufficient condition for statehood. International law distinguishes between the recognition of statehood and the recognition of a government. A state can recognize the former without recognizing the latter. Most countries that recognize the state of Palestine recognize the Palestinian National Authority, though not all. Moreover, well over 100 countries have accorded recognition to Palestine over the last 60 years.

In my mind the constitutive theory of statehood is flawed because it allows the creation of states that do not fulfill the most basic conditions of statehood. A state cannot exist if it doesn't have a government or territory. Palestine and Gaza probably have the latter, but not the former.

So if either Hamas or Palestine declared independence tomorrow, I don't think they would be a state under international law.
I don't agree with him entirely but read the whole thing. I don't agree with him because I don't believe that the fact that many of the 'Palestinians' have been living in Judea and Samaria their entire lives and consider themselves 'Palestinian' constitutes them as a 'permanent population' in the sense necessary for a distinct national entity. The 'Palestinians' are not distinct from the rest of the Arab world as is shown exhaustively in Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial. By the standard he's suggesting, the Cuban community in Miami - for example - could wake up one morning and decide to be a state (assuming it fulfilled the other conditions), as could the Lubavitch Hasidim in Crown Heights and the Satmar in Williamsburg or the ultra-Orthodox in any neighborhood in Jerusalem. Nationalism requires more than just a group of people who are alike and who have lived in the same area for some period of time.

Israel has decided to wait and see on recognizing Kosovo, but Haaretz has already decided that we should recognize the new 'state.' Haaretz totally ignores the implications that Israel's doing so would have for the 'Palestinians' - an issue I discussed here.
Strong American support for the independence of Kosovo is detrimental to Israeli interests. The US position is based on the view that a solution to long-standing conflict can and should be imposed on the parties by outside powers. In addition, the new state's creation seeks to award part of a nation’s territory to a violent ethno-religious minority; futilely hopes to curry favor with the Islamic world through appeasement; effectively gives a fresh impetus to the ongoing growth of Islamic influence in Europe; and denies the fact that the putative state’s leaders are tainted by terrorism, criminality, and well-documented links with global jihad. Most importantly, it betrays a cynically postmodern contempt for all claims based on the historical rights and spiritual significance of a land to a nation.

It is in Israel’s interest to reiterate its already-stated position that any solution to Kosovo should be based on the agreement of both parties in dispute. In addition, the Israeli government should declare that it will not extend recognition to any self-proclaimed “state” unless its independence is approved by the UN Security Council.
But then Haaretz doesn't really care if Israel is replaced by 'Palestine' anyway. (For the record, over the weekend, the JPost reported that David Landau - the subject of that last link - is being replaced as Haaretz's editor. However, that does not indicate any change in Haaretz's basic editorial line).


At 5:20 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Serbs recall the West has kept the Bosnian Serb areas from seceding and joining Serbia by force on the grounds this would violate existing boundaries. The West has now recognized a unilateral solution of an independent Kosovo and altered state boundaries thereby compromising Serbia's territorial integrity and jeopardizing its statehood. If the Kosovars deserve self-determination, why not the Serbs?

At 9:10 PM, Blogger Nephtuli said...

Thank you for linking to my blog.

I don't think your examples are analogous for a number of reasons. First, none of those groups considers itself an independent people. If they had been doing so for the last 30 years or so, then you might have a better case. Just waking up one day and deciding they are culturally different from the majority of their current state is insufficient.

Additionally, while I don't know much about the Cuban population in Florida I can say with certainty that Satmar and Lubavitch Chassidim are not that distinct from the rest of Orthodox Jews to constitute their own people. Whether Orthodox Jews or Jews as a whole could make such a claim is different question. I think the Chassidim in Mea Sharim might be able to claim they are a separate nation and do have a permanent population.

But even if they do fulfill that condition, they would fail conditions #3 and #4 (government and ability to enter into diplomatic relationships with other countries). And that is true of all the other groups you mentioned.

So whether Joan Peters believed that the Palestinians are merely nomads who immigrated to Israel during the Mandate is immaterial. The Palestinian population is relatively stable, they have a somewhat distinct culture, and they and the world consider them Palestinians. As far as I am aware every single country in the world recognizes the existence of the Palestinian people.

On a similar point, I don't believe that Hamas or the Palestinians would be seceding from Israel in any legal sense. Israel never annexed the territories, so they aren't part of Israel. Israel claims rights to the West Bank and administers them as an occupying power (whether Israel actually is an occupying power is an entirely different question). The Palestinians declaring a state wouldn't be secession but rather a unilateral solution to a bilateral problem.

At 1:06 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you Carl for raising the distubing Kosovo situation and the possible negative implications re:the Israeli-"Palestinian" issue.

Since you are in Israel, you probably did not hear that Condoleezza Rice gave a speech last week, "Remarks on Transformational Diplomacy", which was a follow-up to her ground-breaking speech 2 years ago, "Transformational Diplomacy". Both of these speeches were given at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, and give insight into the disastrous US foreign policy not just in Kosovo or Iraq, but increasingly in Africa, and well, then there's Annapolis and what's about to be imposed upon Israel. Ex-NATO commander (and Georgetown School of F. Service alum, himself) Gen. James Jones was tasked by Condi with monitoring Annapolis compliance and Livni seems to be echoing the Condi/Jones line...you see, years before Condi's transformational diplomacy speech, James Jones gave a little speech of his own: "Prague to Istanbul: Ambition versus Reality" where his discussion about going global focuses on "Steps toward Transformation", "The Four Pillars of Transformation.

My point is, for people wanting to understand the relationship between Kosovo, NATO, the foreign troops in Gaza question, or the US approach overall, learn about James Jones, Annapolis monitor--especially since he'll likely be the driver for the next administration's Middle East policy, especially if McCain is elected. (Obviously, I think this is a very bad thing.)

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Acfo said...

Kosovo (Albanian: Kosova or Kosovë) is a country in the southeastern Europe, Its Provisional Institutions of Self-Government have recently declared independence from the genocidal Serbia, which contested the act; as the Republic of Kosovo



Post a Comment

<< Home